Washington: President Donald Trump has accused the previous Obama administration of waging a "relentless war" on American energy by reaching "ineffective" global agreements that he alleged allowed the world's worst-polluting countries to continue their practices.
His statement came amidst claims by Environmental Protection Agency's Administrator Andrew Wheeler that the landmark Paris Agreement on climate change is unfair to the US and countries like India and China benefit out of it.
For years, politicians told Americans that a strong economy and a vibrant energy sector were incompatible with a healthy environment. In other words, one thing does not go with the other.
"And that's wrong because we're proving the exact opposite," Trump said in his remarks during a White House event on America's Environmental Leadership.
"A strong economy is vital to maintaining a healthy environment. When we innovate, produce and grow, we're able to unleash technologies and processes that make the environment better while reshoring and, so importantly -- you look at reshoring production all the way -- taking it away from foreign polluters, and back to American soil," asserted the US President.
Trump alleged the previous administration waged a relentless war on American energy.
"We can't do that. They sought to punish our workers, our producers and manufacturers with ineffective global agreements that allowed the world's worst-polluting countries to continue their practices," he said.
These radical plans, he claimed, would not make the world cleaner; they would just make and put Americans out of work, and they put them out of work rapidly.
"They move production to foreign countries with lower standards -- our companies were forced to do that, and they didn't want to do that -- and they drive up the price of gas and electricity at home, and drive it to levels that are literally unaffordable.
"And by the way that's happening to many other countries, but it's not happening here. Other countries -- their pricing on electricity is so high, not even to be affordable. At our level, we are doing numbers that nobody has seen before. Nobody believes what we're doing and what we're producing electricity and other things for," Trump said.
"Punishing Americans is never the right way to produce a better environment or a better economy. We've rejected this failed approach and we're seeing incredible results," he said.
During a conference call with reporters, Wheeler said: "The Paris Climate Accord is an unfair treaty, in terms of the US with our trading partners -- when you see that China doesn't have to even begin making reductions; they can continue to increase their emissions, and they are, until 2030. And other countries don't have to make reductions either, such as India and other developing countries. So it was an unfair trade treaty for the United States".
"Another aspect that a lot of people gloss over is that, under the Clean Air Act -- I believe it's Section 115 of the Clean Air Act -- if we enter into an international treaty, such as the Paris Climate Accord -- if we fail to meet our targets, those are enforceable under our domestic laws," he said.
Most other countries which are signatories to the Paris Climate Accord do not have that same constraint, Wheeler said but asserted that one of the few industrialised countries that has already met their targets for the Paris Climate Accord.
"So, regardless of whether we're in the Paris Climate Accord or not, we continue to make progress on that front. But the Paris Climate Accord is unfair to the US consumer, US manufacturer and the US economy," he said.
The US is taking international leadership on issues such as marine plastic debris, Wheeler asserted.
In his address, Trump said after coming to power, his administration has created more than six million new jobs and unemployment has reached the lowest rate in a half a century.
"We're unlocking American energy and the United States is now a net exporter of clean, affordable, American natural gas. We're exporting all over the world," he said.
Trump said that the US does not have to sacrifice its own jobs to lead the world on the environment.
China is the world's largest carbon dioxide emitter followed by the US and India respectively, according to the Global Carbon Project.